From the artist of BSC Graphix comes this humorous coming-of-age true story about the dental drama that ensues after a trip-and-fall mishap.
Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girl Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached. And on top of all that, there’s still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly.
One of the goals I set for myself this year was to read more books that are either award nominees or winners. At the library, there is a display of books that are nominated for the Young Readers Choice Awards. Smile was one of the books on that display, and since it was a graphic novel and looked like a pretty quick read, I thought it would be a good start to tackling this category of books.
Of course, when I picked up the story to begin with, I never expected how much I would relate to the struggles of young Raina as she goes through middle school. I didn’t even realize that a lot of the story — despite the title — deals with Raina falling and knocking out a few teeth. I may be way past the middle grade age, but boy did I squirm during a lot of the dental surgery parts! I would suggest if you’re not the biggest fan of the dentist that you tread lightly with this book because I winced many, many times.
But even with the dental surgery — something I can relate to, having had braces when I was younger — this was such a sweet story. I felt so sorry for what Raina had to go with having to wear head gear — head gear! — and not just regular braces. She also had a group of friends who turned out to be jerks and treated her badly (another thing I could relate to!). All I wanted to do was tell young Raina that it gets better!
This book would be a perfect read for middle grade girls who have to deal with things like braces, friends, and boys. It’s a fast-paced read with beautiful colour drawings and so many messages throughout. I look forward to seeing what Raina Telgemeier comes up with next because this really was a treat to read — I can see why it was nominated for this award!